September 29,2010

Grassley: Grandfathering Rule Breaks Health Care Promises

Floor Speech of Senator Chuck Grassley
Grandfathering Debate
Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010

I support Senator Enzi’s resolution disapproving the regulation on grandfathered health plans. 

The partisan health care overhaul enacted last March and subsequent implementation represents so many broken promises that I hardly know where to begin.

But Senator Enzi’s resolution certainly sheds some light on one of the most glaring broken promises we have seen so far and is as good a place as any to start.

Time and time again throughout the health care debate, supporters of the health care overhaul assured voters that even after their proposal became law “if you like your current health plan, you’d be able to keep it.”

Well, the Administration’s own regulations prove that this is not the case.

Under the grandfathering regulation, according to the White House’s own economic impact analysis, as many as 69 percent of businesses will lose their grandfathered status by 2013 and be forced to buy a government-approved plan.

The estimates are even more troubling for small businesses. 

Again, according to the Administration’s own estimates in the regulation, as many as 80 percent of small employers will be forced out of their current plan and into a more expensive government-approved plan.

It’s no wonder that the grandfathering regulation is opposed by pretty much every employer organization in the country.  NFIB, the Chamber, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Retail Federation have all weighed in against this burdensome and disruptive new policy.

Our economy is in a fragile place right now, yet the implementation of this new health care law is creating more uncertainty and higher costs for American businesses. 

How can we ask them to go out and create jobs and hire new people when each new health regulation adds another layer of bureaucracy and uncertainty?  The White House should be making it easier to do business in this country, not harder. 

And this isn’t just about confusion.  It’s about costs. 

When employers or individuals make even modest changes to their benefits and lose grandfathered status, they are forced to buy a new government-approved health care plan that in most cases will cost more than the current plan.

That means the government will tell employers what benefits they have to cover, who they have to offer coverage to, and how much they have to contribute.

We’ve already seen data from health plans saying that the requirements in the new law could drive up premiums by about 9 percent.  This is in line with CBO’s estimate that the overhaul would increase premiums by 10 to 13 percent.

When you factor in medical inflation, some people are still seeing premium increases of 20 percent or more after the passage of the health care law.

What happened to President Obama’s promise about lowering premiums by $2,500?  Are we supposed to add that to the list as another broken promise?

Each day it feels like another news story comes out that shows why the partisan health care overhaul was the wrong approach.

Health plans are being forced out of the child-only market.  Some plans have stopped selling in the individual market entirely.

Premiums continue to go up at twice the rate of inflation.

The White House’s own actuary is telling us that health care inflation will be worse now than it was before the health care bill became law.  

Over 1 million seniors are being forced out of their current Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan.  And this is only going to get worse.   

Businesses are considering dropping retiree health care benefits and possibly dropping health care coverage all together. 

With these kinds of stories coming out on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that polls are showing close to 60 percent of Americans oppose the new law. 

I support Senator Enzi’s efforts and appreciate that he was willing to shed some light on this issue. 

There is a lot of misinformation out there and people need to understand what this health care overhaul means for them. 

The grandfathering regulation is a clear violation of the promises made by supporters of the health care law and we owe it to our constituents to fix it.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.